After the baseball debacle of last summer, you'd think I'd have learned my lesson regarding picking my kids activities for them. Those three months were among the hardest of my son's life, and were perhaps even more painful for my husband and me. My son told me he didn't want to sign up. And whether it was wishful thinking he'd discover his inner Ryan Braun (minus the steroids thing), or perhaps my latent sadomasochistic streak, I signed him up anyway.
Every at bat was excruciating, and after the final strike out of the season I swore to myself I'd forever let the kids take the lead on their activity choices from that day on.
As it turns out I was, as I am so often prone to do, lying to myself. Because as my inbox is deluged daily with more after school lessons, weekend enrichment opportunities and summer camps (in February?) than I have the children, cash or carpooling ability to take advantage of, I am finding myself wanting to make gentle suggestions, if not downright demands, on what they should be getting involved in.
For example, the baseball-hater has informed me that this spring will likely mark the end of his rather non-illustrious soccer career. And I am perfectly okay with that. Neither of us is very good at keeping track of multiple pairs of shoes, especially ones with little pointy spikes on the bottom. But what I really think he's trying to tell me is that he'd like to be done with sports forever. And I am not sure I'm okay with that. The kid has a tremendous amount of sixth-grade-boy energy and it has to be burned off somewhere that isn't the living room. I'm pretty flexible. He could try something solo, like golf. Or something exotic, like capoeira , the Brazilian martial art. Or even something like archery. But he has to do something physical---my choice, not his.
And my desire to steer the "activity boat" is even more pronounced with my nine-year-old. I am sure it's some Freudian mother/daughter thing, but it bothers me how much I want her to like the same things that I liked as a kid. So I'm pushing for another crack at sleepaway camp this summer. Or at least a local day camp. I want her to ride horses, swim in a lake and make lanyards out of gymp.
But she doesn’t want to hear about nature walks or campfires. She just wants to take art classes. Not arts and crafts classes, mind you -- she doesn't seem to have my same undying respect for the friendship bracelet. Instead, she's looking for instruction in figure drawing, watercolor painting and sculpting. Sure, a mom can hope that her little girl may yet discover the joy of cabin life. But I guess I should be counting my blessings that she has a great place to learn the stuff she's interested in, right down the street.
Monroe Street Fine Arts Center , celebrating its 15th anniversary this month, is a pretty happening place. From the guitar and violin lessons my kids never quite took to, to open art studios, to the fine art instruction my daughter is clamoring for, the Center offers a great opportunity for kids to indulge their creativity. And I don't doubt for a second my daughter would be just as happy learning to paint landscapes as horseback riding through them this coming summer.
So perhaps I've learned my lesson. And I will let her take the lessons she really wants to take.
And I'm sure I could ask the director of MSFAC if they'd consider a class in gymp or macramé.comments powered by Disqus
This will not (although it could) be a treatise on the value of "alone time" for a healthy marriage, though. Nor will it be an ode to how nice it was for me to have a few days off from lunch-packing, carpool-driving and homework-nagging.
For those of you who haven't yet seen it, the eight-week-long transit campaign, placed both inside and on the outside of buses, features a photo of an orange tabby with a stainless steel bar drilled into its head accompanied by the line "I am not lab equipment. End UW cat experiments!" Just as PETA hopes, the image is shocking and demands an immediate response.
If I had my druthers, I'd sit out the entire shopping week that follows Thanksgiving. Black Friday, for starters, has corrupted the fine art of bargain shopping and turned it into a gladiator sport. There is no percentage off that is worth losing sleep, or even worse an eye, over. Especially if you have kids in tow.
When you shop for toys, there is always the conflict between what you think is appropriate/adorable and what the child being shopped for might actually want/play with.
Many of the pop-culture seasonal touchpoints of my youth are completely lost on my kids. You see, while I may have memorized every word to both the Snow Miser and the Heat Miser's songs from The Year Without a Santa Claus, I'm pretty sure the only Rankin-Bass stop-motion Christmas special my kids have ever seen has been Rudolph.
I am so thrilled that the United Way is sponsoring a Teen Gift Drive this holiday season. Sure, teen "wants" often aren't as fun to shop for as precious baby dolls and sweet Lego sets. But middle and high school kids still "need" to feel valued and loved during this time of year. And helping a family in need to provide this for their child is a wonderful way to get in the spirit.
My 11th-grade and 8th-grade sons have heard "the chant" for years. You know which one I'm talking about -- the ESFY (U?) chant (I'm not sure what the parenting post rules are for writing two of the more forbidden four-letter words in the English language) that appears to have both Barry Alvarez and Chancellor Blank quite concerned.
There are many different criteria parents use when evaluating which pre-school programs will be right for their children. Some parents might be looking for an educational philosophy that stresses creativity and community. Others may desire an option that revolves around learning through play or is more academic in approach.
We spent hours poring over name books and checking for inappropriate initial combinations. We looked at meanings, variant spellings and popularity charts. And, as I am sure every parent does, we thought we'd hit the name jackpot with each of our kids. But there are always surprises.
A generation or two ago, the pediatrician was the guy (yes, they were mostly guys) who gave your kids shots and prescribed big bottles of antibiotics for every sniffle. Madison's Dipesh Navsaria is a different breed of pediatrician.
Gamehole Con will be the premier tabletop gaming convention in the region. And with Wisconsin being the birthplace of Dungeons and Dragons, as well as the nation's leader in gaming stores per capita, it kind of makes sense that the convention's organizers want the Dairy State to be known for more than just cheese, beer and bratwurst.
This year I will also try to ease up some of my previous costume concerns. Sure, the world is rife with inappropriate dress up choices for our kids; there is no parent out there that is keen on his or her child dressing like a pint-sized prostitute, even for one night.
This past Saturday, I took my youngest to hear Caldecott award-winning author/illustrator Kevin Henkes read from his latest work, The Year of Billy Miller, a short novel for the early elementary grades.
I was greeted at the door by Tom Moen, who has served as executive director of what he likes to call "Madison's best kept secret", for the past 39 of the center's 47 years. Located in the middle of the subsidized Truax Park apartment complex, EMCC, with its vast array of offerings for kids, seniors and everyone in between, is unquestionably the heart of the neighborhood.
Madison's Kashmira Sheth has written four award-winning novels for middle grade and teen readers, and a popular chapter book for six- to nine-year-olds, but right now her picture books are what she's excited to talk about.
A few summers back, my daughter, maybe 8 or 9 at the time, decided to take part in our swimming pool's annual water ballet show. I'm not really sure what initially piqued her interest in the somewhat under-the-radar, very much under-the-water sport of synchronized swimming.
We rarely included a stop at the Central Library as part of our regular outing. For those of you who've been in Madison for a while, I'm sure you'd agree that the old building was pretty run down. Not to mention, dark, cavernous and depressing. Libraries, at their best, should be portals to discovery, right?
My eleven-year-old daughter spent most of last weekend alone in her room, door shut. It wasn't a temper tantrum or an overwhelming need for tween privacy that led to her self-induced isolation, though. Instead, I didn't see her (except for meals) for two days because she was, in her words, "going through her closet."
Yes, the 2004 classic comedy Mean Girls is an absolutely delightful movie. But it's definitely not the smartest mother/daughter viewing as your child is about to enter her inaugural year of middle school.
Despite celebrating 30 years in business this year, Knowledge Unlimited Inc. remains relatively unknown in the community. Those concerned with closing the achievement gap in Madison's schools, however, may want to take note. This award-winning educational-materials producer, based in Middleton, is unique in emphasizing multiculturalism throughout its lines of educational posters, DVDs and children's books.